Print this Page
Print this Page

Culture has a central role in the Danish EU presidency from Jan-June 2012, including CULTURE and MEDIA after 2013.


The proposal for EU legislation on ‘orphan’ works will be finalized during the Danish presidency.

Show all Profile-News...

Denmark/ 3.4 International cultural co-operation  

3.4.3 European / international actors and programmes


In recent years, as a member of the EU, Denmark worked to achieve:

  • the current artistic and cultural exceptions, stated in Article 128 of the Maastricht-Treaty and in the articles on culture that have been added since then, to be sharpened in order to secure the cultural dimension of EU-cooperation;
  • that the Commission, as it has in recent years, will continue to play a proactive role inside and outside Europe concerning implementing and monitoring the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions;
  • the extension and strengthening of the MEDIA 2007 programme, with special emphasis on support for productions;
  • the extension and implementing of the Culture 2007 programme, with special emphasis on supporting large-scale projects that ensure visibility, innovation and creativity, as stated in the framework of the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs;
  • cooperation in defining and executing challenges regarding online digitisation, where the digital library Europeana is the main asset;
  • to avert the Commission's objection to Danish library support for authors, as well as other national and cultural support programmes like the Film support programme. The regulations are essential elements in Danish cultural policy, as well as other countries adhering to the architect model. Concerning the Danish library case, it was settled in December 2007, when the Commission decided to drop the case, as it was decided that the Act did not discriminate on the bases of nationality;
  • to participate in defining the priority areas that make up the Work Plan for Culture  2011-2014. The Council's Work Plan for Culture for 2011-2014 will constitute the framework for part of the Council's work during the Danish Presidency. The Presidency will in particular place focus on culture in external relations;
  • Denmark held the Presidency of the Council for the first six months of 2012 and the Minister of Culture, Uffe Elbæk, led the meetings of Ministers of Culture. According to schedule, the upcoming EU programme Creative Europe will be on the agenda. The Creative Europe programme is the support programme for Europe's cultural and creative sectors from 2014. The programme is currently under discussion in the Council of EU ministers and the European Parliament. According to the Commission's communication, Europe needs to invest more in its cultural and creative sectors as they contribute largely to economic growth, employment, innovation and social cohesion. The aim is that Creative Europe will safeguard and promote cultural and linguistic diversity and strengthen the competitiveness of the cultural and creative sectors. The programme is furthermore meant to help the cultural and creative sectors to seize opportunities of the digital age and globalisation, as well as helping the sector to contribute to the EU's 2020 goals for sustainable growth, jobs and social cohesion. Creative Europe aims at more funding for artists and cultural professionals to develop their skills and work across borders, to facilitate private funding and to ensure more funding for transnational cultural activities. As the programme is under discussion in the Council and the Parliament, the Danish Presidency has an obvious role in facilitating, and affecting the process.

The Danish EU Presidency

The Danish EU Presidency from January to July 2012 will picture a better Europe. On the basis of strategic co-operation in the context of the European Agenda for Culture and the future culture programme, the Presidency will work towards a continued focus on the promotion of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and creativity as well as the promotion of the role of culture in the Union's relations to countries outside the EU.

The Presidency wishes to continue cooperation on the strategic targets of the European cultural agenda, including the targets of promoting cultural diversity and culture as a catalyst for creativity. In continuation of this, the Presidency will work towards making the role and potentials of culture more visible – also within other policy areas.

One of the Presidency's targets is to promote the ratification of and follow-up on the UNESCO Convention on cultural diversity. The EU Culture Programme plays a particularly important role in cultural cooperation, including for the promotion of cross-border cultural projects with a European dimension. The Programme supports cooperation on and knowledge of Europe's cultural diversity and is as such of direct relevance to European citizens. During the Danish Presidency, the Council will need to consider the Commission proposal on a future cultural programme after 2013 within the framework of the proposal for a Creative Europe programme (see chapter 4.1). This will be a priority for the Danish Presidency. Similarly, the Council will need to revise the programme Europe for Citizens, which aims at promoting active European citizenship. The Danish Presidency will work towards renewing the programme in continuation of the Commission proposal for this.

Audio-visual issues

As part of the work towards promoting the production of European audio-visual content, the Council will need to consider the next generation of support programmes in the audio-visual field. The existing MEDIA programme focuses, amongst other things, on cultural and linguistic diversity, on the competitiveness of the European audio-visual sector, and on the dissemination of European audio-visual products, whereas the MEDIA Mundus programme supports cooperation between the European audio-visual industry and audio-visual producers from third countries. The Danish Presidency will actively endeavour to provide momentum in the consideration of the Commission proposal for a future MEDIA programme after 2013 - within the framework of the proposal for a Creative Europe programme. Moreover, the Council will need to deal with ongoing work regarding the digital agenda, including digitisation and on-line access to cultural and creative material and digital preservation.

With the European Agenda for Culture, from 2007 cultural cooperation is now targeted at the following overall strategic objectives:

  • focusing on cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue;
  • promoting and illustrating the importance of cultural and creative industries for growth and jobs; and
  • promoting the role of culture in the Union's relations to countries outside the EU

This is achieved through support to Member States' activities in the field of culture and through cooperation with other international organisations working in the area of culture, such as the Council of Europe and UNESCO. In addition, the EU also promotes the strategic objectives by taking cultural aspects into account when drafting new legislation in other policy areas, e.g. education, research and ICT.

The current work plan covers the period 2011-2014 and focuses on, among other things, the mobility of artists, culture and regional development, the cooperation of museums and increased cultural cooperation with third countries.

The Lisbon Treaty constitutes the legal basis of cooperation in the field of culture. According to the Treaty, regulation and harmonisation of national cultural policies is excluded. Instead, cooperation is carried out through:

  • exchange of best practice;
  • financial support programme;
  • recommendations to Member States; and
  • Creative Europe

The principal focus of the Danish Presidency will be on the negotiations of the Commission's proposal for a Creative Europe framework programme, which will include the next generation of the Culture Programme that supports cross-border cultural projects, and of the MEDIA and MEDIA Mundus programmes that support the European audiovisual industry. The official launch event of the European Creative Industries Alliance will take place as part of the Innovation Festival (IF) Finale Conference, which will happen between 26 and 28 February 2012 in Milan. The event will also include presentations of other EU initiatives in support of the cultural and creative sectors – such as the Commission's proposal for a new Creative Europe programme – as well as exhibitions, music and fashion intermezzos of an innovative character. (Further information

The Danish presidency and copyright

The debate on copyright has been marked in recent years. A new digital world challenges our traditional view of perception and the way in which we have hitherto acted in relation to copyright. Movies, music, lyrics, sheet music and much more can be distributed and reproduced at a scale and with a speed that has not previously been possible. The news is that especially the EU's focus on the challenges and particularly the opportunities that this technology going forward can be used to create a hope that all kinds of lyrics and sheet music can be used by far more people, without copyright violation.

With increased digitisation, there is a greater exchange of copyrighted works across national borders. The development has led to the EU in these years to improve greater focus on copyright than before. The EU wishes to preserve its heritage and through digitisation ensure the availability of such texts across national borders. This must be done in a fair and transparent management of copyrighted works, which member states can agree on. It is therefore expected that during the presidency decisions will be taken on a number of areas which are not yet regulated within EU countries.

Orphan works

One area to be discussed during the Presidency is the European Commission's Directive on so called "orphan works". The term refers to a work where the licensee cannot be identified. The idea behind the proposal is to allow public cultural institutions, particularly libraries, to digitise works to protect the heritage. The Directive directs each institution wishing to digitise a work to firstly search for licensees before the work can be declared ‘orphan’. The directive also implies a principle of mutual recognition between EU countries. This means that the search effort that underlies that a work is declared orphaned need only be performed in one country. The proposal is before the European Parliament and the Council of Europe and is expected to be finalised during the first half of 2012 under the Danish EU presidency.

Out of Commerce

The European Commission, together with several international societies, libraries and non-commercial cultural institutions signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to ensure that books and journals can de digitalised and secured in the future when a work is no longer published or, for other reasons, is no longer commercially available in the market. It is now up to the various stakeholders involved to convert the MoU into practice through collaborations between these institutions and representatives of rights holders.

Collective management

Finally, the European Commission also looks at how to consolidate and disseminate the transparency of public administration to create a more level playing field for right holders, government organisations, users and suppliers throughout Europe. It places special emphasis on management of online music across borders. The Commission aims to ensure that licensees in Europe have a fair and uniform administration of their copyrights and copy fees. It is expected that the Commission will present a draft directive on collective management in the first half of 2012 (see

Bente Skovgaard Kristensen, who is Head of the Culture Ministry's department for Copyright, Media and Sport, has stressed the importance of Denmark’s role in ensuring movement on EU copyright matters in the first half of 2012. The challenge for the Danish presidency is to find a compromise among Member States which must allow for national solutions for handling copyright-protected material - for example, according to the Danish agreement licensing model (see chapter 5.1.7).

Global discussion on copyright

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) also influences the debate on copyright in the EU. WIPO has recently been focusing on limitations and exceptions to copyright exclusivity. In November 2011, the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) discussed proposals for exceptions to copyright. The issues will be discussed at an upcoming diplomatic conference in June/July 2012 on "audiovisual performances". It will also fall to the Danish Presidency to coordinate the common EU approach to the questions (see, further information:


Denmark has been a member of UNESCO since 1945. The administration of the Danish UNESCO Commission is situated within the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Culture has been the primary body for implementing and monitoring the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which has beenratified by Denmark. The ratification did not demand any changes in Danish law, as much of it was already implemented. In 2009 and 2010 there will be follow-ups and hearings, in cooperation with different NGO's and actors from civil society. In 2011, all countries involved in the Convention will report on what concrete achievements have been made.

In 2009, Denmark also ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.

At UNESCO's 35th General Conference, Denmark was chosen to as a member of UNESCO's Executive Board. On the Board, Denmark represents the other Nordic countries which all share the view that smaller countries should have influence within the Executive Boards, as well as generally within UNESCO. Denmark's representative will place emphasis on the efficiency of UNESCO's work, and promote better coherence between regular and extra-budgetary activities. Amongst other priorities, Denmark will advocate for Education for All, increased research, increased focus on intercultural understanding, dialogue and cultural diversity, and safeguarding freedom of expression, by focusing on the development of independent media, freedom of speech and safety of journalists.

Nordic Co-operation

Within the framework of the Nordic Council (Nordisk Råd) and the Nordic Council of Ministers (Nordisk Ministerråd), Denmark has been seeking the:

  • contribution and promotion of Nordic cultural diversity, as well as strengthening and promotion of the Nordic dimension in the cultural life of the respective countries;
  • promotion and strengthening of the Nordic dimension in the cultural lives of the Nordic countries;
  • promotion and strengthening of the quality, and power to compete, of the cultural life; and
  • ensuring that Nordic cultural co-operation makes art and culture available for all the Nordic countries.

A new structure for cultural co-operation was proposed and prepared during the Danish presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2005. The aim was to add more energy, visibility and new working methods to Nordic cultural co-operation and to add more focus to the national contributions. The Reform was passed by the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2006.

The most profound changes in the reform are that the Nordic cultural co-operation has been moved from institutionalised, sectarian thinking, towards thematically defined projects and time-limited programmes. This will result in more funds for new initiatives and projects and the new organisation, with less institutions and committees but bigger programmes, will make cultural co-operation more user-friendly and visible to the public. The reform also implied that the following cultural institutions were to be closed down on 1 January 2007: Nordiskt Center för Scenekonst - NordScen, Nordisk Institut för Samtidskonst - NIFCA, Nordiska musikkommittéen – NOMUS, Nordiska litteratur- och bibliotekskommittéen - NordBok.

The cultural reform launched by the Nordic governments in 2007 was implemented with the overall aim to allocate more money for projects. Fewer resources should be spent on administration.

One of the main structural changes was the establishment of Culture Contact North, which replaced the former expert committees in literature, music, visual arts, performing arts, culture and media, youth cooperation, children and culture, as stated below.

Culture Contact North is responsible for handling applications and providing information and advice to the cultural sector in the Nordic countries and autonomous territories. The department also functions as a service centre for the Nordic culture ministers.

The Nordic Ministers of Culture are responsible for the existing Arts and Culture Programme. Experts are appointed by the national Ministries of Culture to carry out assessments of the awards in several arts areas and to make decisions on the allocation of support within the political frameworks. The number of experts is very limited compared to the previous system of separate art institutions and expert committees in the different artistic fields. The experts in the new system often make their decisions without consulting others - even in areas which are outside their cultural competences.

The experts are nominated by national cultural authorities and appointed by the Ministerial Council for Culture. Culture Contact Point is the new administrative framework to support the experts in their work and to put their decisions into practice. In principle, there is therefore a sort of arm's-length organisation. The question remains how does it correspond with the objective and bureaucratic and political independence in the real world?

Cultural Reform in consultation

The Cultural Reform of 2007 was debated at a public hearing in Copenhagen organised by the Nordic Council in April 2009. Central to the debate was the desire for dialogue and popular support. Both professional and amateur artists took part in the debate about the main points of reform. The consultation was intended to enable the Nordic Council to explore the Nordic cultural perception of the ongoing reforms in the cultural field. The consultation culminated in a series of specific recommendations. The overall conclusion deemed that it was premature to draw definitive conclusions on the reform's impact. In addition, there is a paucity of experience. A position on Nordic cultural cooperation and future values of the organisation also requires thorough scientific analysis that examines the experience of cultural cooperation in the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Nordic Council and the Nordic Culture Fund in a global perspective, assessing them against the cooperation of new surroundings and challenges. This is a huge research task.

Reform of the Nordic cultural cooperation in 2010 will be subject to a higher evaluation. (Further information see:; The Nordic Journal of Cultural Policy no. 1/2009, Tema: Det officielle Nordiska Kultursamarbetet under forandring,

The specific focus of Nordic cultural co-operation given priority in the period 2007-2010 has been the:

  • Nordic Computer-Game Programme. The aim of the programme is to stimulate the Nordic computer game agencies to produce high quality computer programmes for children and the young;
  • Mobility and Residents Programme. The aim of the programme is to guarantee greater mobility for artists and cultural editors, promote cultural networking and strengthen artists' residencies; and
  • Nordic Art – and Cultural Co-operation Programme. This programme was due to run from 2007, with the aim of focusing on production and communication, development of competencies, and the promotion of the critical science of art. The work of this development programme will decide the direction of all other cultural programmes and projects in the Nordic Council.

A new cultural campaign aims to improve the position of the Nordic Region in global competitiveness and to strengthen the creative industries and international dialogue, according to the Nordic ministers of culture, who in April 2008 agreed on a joint globalisation cultural initiative.

According to the five Nordic Ministers of Culture, Nordic co-operation is to play a more active role in international competition on issues of welfare, values and jobs. The ministers agree that culture and the arts should help to improve Nordic competitive power and raise the region's international profile. Sweden's Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth, current chair of the Council of Ministers for Culture stated that: "We are looking forward to playing an active role in the globalisation work started by the prime ministers. The demands of globalisation require us to develop a future-orientated strategy for the international challenges facing co-operation in the areas of culture and the media".

As the first follow-up to the ministers' globalisation initiative, the ministers of culture will approach the Nordic ministers of trade directly with a proposal for joint ventures in the creative industries. The Nordic Game Programme has produced excellent results in the form of educational computer games for children and young people. The Nordic Film and TV Fund has supported the development of quality productions. These two areas will be further developed and put to better use in international marketing of the Nordic countries as a creative region. Lena Liljeroth stated that: "There is no doubt that creativity, innovation and products which create identity are of increasing importance in international competition. The Nordic countries have excellent qualifications to take the lead within those very areas. We already have a high international status in, for example, films and TV and, not least, in relation to the new media. This raises completely new economic perspectives in a common branding of the Nordic Region".

The enlargement of intercultural co-operation constitutes the other major part of the ministers of culture's globalisation agenda. The ministers want, amongst other things, to strengthen the profile of Nordic traditions for cultural dialogue and democratic discourse. The aim is to optimise development conditions for both cultural life and business life through a greater cultural exchange between other regions and countries.

Read more:

Denmark takes part in the nomination of candidates for Nordic cultural prizes. The Nordic prizes are the following:

  • The Nordic Council's Literature Prize is awarded for a work of imaginative literature written in one of the Nordic languages. The intention of the prize is also to increase interest in the literature of neighbouring countries, as well as in Nordic cultural fellowship. The prize is worth 350 000 DKK;
  • The Nordic Council's Music Prize recognises creative and practical musicians of a high artistic standard. The prize is awarded to a piece of music by a living composer and to a small or large ensemble of high artistic and technical standards. The prize was launched as early as 1965 and was originally awarded every third year. Since 1990, the prize, which is worth 350 000 DKK, has been awarded every year. In 1997, the autonomous territories (Greenland, Faeroe Islands, Aland Islands and the Saami Areas) were granted permission to make their own nominations for the prize;
  • in 2005, the Nordic Council established the annual Nordic Council Film Prize which is awarded to scriptwriters, directors and producers. The criteria for winning the prize is the creation of an artistically original film, rooted in Nordic cultural circles. The Nordic Council Film Prize is worth 350 000 DKK and the prize money is to be shared between the scriptwriter, the director and the producer.

The Nordic Culture Fund (Nordisk Kulturfond) is a Nordic body of cooperation, whose task is to support cultural cooperation in the broad sense between the Nordic countries. The Nordic Culture Fund awards about 25 million DKK every year to cultural projects in the Nordic Region or Nordic projects outside the Nordic Region. The projects that are supported reflect the entire cultural life and involve all areas including visual art, theatre, music and dance, literature and new media. Education, research and trans-sector projects are also supported, but these projects must have a clear connection with art and culture. Projects that can receive support from the Fund must include at least three Nordic countries or autonomous areas (the Faroe Islands, Greenland and the Aaland Islands).

The Nordic cultural agreement was 40 years in place in 2011. The Nordic Council Session held in October 20122 in Copenhagen included a debate on cultural diversity: What is Nordic and who is Nordic? Is multiculturalism the way forward or should we return to a stronger national identity? These issues that were discussed, inter alia, by Manu Sareen, the new Danish Minister for Nordic Cooperation, and the Nordic Council's elected president Haarder in the shadow of the Norwegian tragedy that occurred in Utøya in summer 2011.

Further information on Nordic cultural cooperation is available at See also chapter 9.1, The Nordic Cultural Model.


Among other global initiatives that Denmark seeks to stimulate and take part in is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' ASEM-co-operation.

Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is the informal forum of dialogue between the Heads of State and government of 25 countries and the President of the European Commission. The purpose of ASEM is to promote and deepen the relationship between Asia and Europe in three main areas 1) political dialogue, 2) economic issues and 3) social, cultural and educational issues.

In July 1994, the European Commission had already published Towards a New Strategy for Asia, stressing the importance of modernising its relationship with Asia, and of reflecting properly its political, economic and cultural significance. The Commission Communication of September 2001 Europe and Asia: A strategic framework for enhanced partnerships reaffirmed this objective. Summit-level meetings were held in Copenhagen in September 2002, Hanoi in October 2004 and Helsinki in September 2006. The ASEM 5 Summit in 2004 adopted the ASEM Declaration on Dialogue among Cultures and Civilisations, reaffirming that cultural diversity, as the common heritage of humanity, is an important driving force for economic progress and social development, conducive to building a more stable and peaceful world. ASEM partners' efforts helped to rally support for the UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. ASEM partners are committed to developing cultural exchanges as well as protecting and promoting cultural expressions. Three ASEM Ministerial Conferences on Culture and Civilisations have taken place. The last ASEM 7 was organised in Beijing on 24 and 25 October 2008 covering issues in economic, political, social and cultural areas, including issues related to sustainable development. Four ASEM Ministerial Conferences on Culture and Civilisation have taken place – the last one in Poland on 8-10 September 2010 – where the main theme of the meeting was Heritage and the Challenges of the Present. The last ASEM 8 was organised in Brussels on 4 and 5 October 2010. This meeting aimed at helping to shape the policies required to respond to the financial and economic crisis. Furthermore, this meeting worked towards strengthening the political dialogue between the two regions, enhancing their trade and investment relationship, and expanding further their cultural exchanges. The next ASEM Summit will be held in Laos in 2012.

Several initiatives have been launched, including the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), with headquarters in Singapore, which strives to promote the international and inter-cultural dimension of the ASEM process. ASEF arranges and sponsors seminars, exhibitions and other international and inter-cultural events.

Town Twinning

Of special interest to municipalities is Town Twinning, as a springboard to closer international cultural cooperation. Denmark has formed a historic tradition for international contacts across national borders of twin-towns. Today, local authorities are leading this international cooperation. In 2006, local authorities were cooperating with corresponding local authorities of 3 twin towns in Europe. Twin town cooperation was, to a high degree, developed between towns in the Nordic countries, often supported by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Today, the EU's Foundation for Town-Twinning is often used by the local authorities in Denmark to develop twin-town cooperation on a European scale. LGDK´s homepage ( includes a survey of foreign local authorities requesting town twinning cooperation or local government partnership in Denmark.

Chapter published: 16-07-2018

Your Comments on this Chapter?